Two Iranian poets given long jail terms and sentenced to lashes
A court in Tehran has sentenced poets Fatemeh Ekhtesari and Mehdi Moosavi to nine years and six months and 99 lashes, and 11 years and 99 lashes, respectively, on charges of “insulting the sacred” for the social criticism expressed in their poetry, according to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.
The flogging sentences were a result of the charge of “illegitimate sexual relationship short of adultery,” for shaking hands with strangers (a person of the opposite sex who is not one’s immediate kin or spouse), Amir Raeesian, the lawyer representing Ekhtesari and Moosavi, told the campaigners.
The convictions were said to have been based on forced false confessions. Fatemeh Ekhtesari, 31, was sentenced to seven years in prison for “insulting the sacred,” three years for “publishing unauthorised content in cyberspace,” and one-and-a-half years for “propaganda against the state,” totalling 11 years and six months. Mehdi Moosavi, 41, a physician and a poet known for his poetry about social issues, was sentenced to six years in prison for “insulting the sacred” and three years for “possession of teargas at his residence”. The so-called teargas was the self-defence spray, Mace, for which he had a permit.
“Nowhere in their poetry are there any words or subjects which could represent ‘insulting the sacred,’ “ said the poets’ lawyer, Amir Raeesian. “All books by these two poets were published with permits issued by the Ministry of [Culture and Islamic] Guidance.”